As 2018 comes to a close, the NYCountry Swag team is highlighting the wide range of our team’s favorite songs and artists when it comes to the country music genre by featuring our favorite album picks of 2018. At the end of the day, we are all fans first with a passion for country music and are eager to share with you all the albums we’ve had on repeat this year.
Find below each of our team member’s favorite albums and why in our 2018 album picks.
Pick: Telling All My Secrets – Mitchell Tenpenny (Listen Here)
2018 blessed us with a ton of great new music. We saw everything from new albums from legends like Eric Church, Dierks Bentley and Carrie Underwood to killer debuts from rising artists like Jordan Davis, Jimmie Allen, and Morgan Evans. When thinking about what my favorite album of 2018 was, I had to think about all of the albums I listened to on repeat and for what reasons I kept them on repeat. When it comes down to the bottom line, from January 2018 to December 2018, Mitchell Tenpenny was an artist I was consistently excited about, making his debut album Telling All My Secrets my favorite album of 2018.
We first worked with Tenpenny during our Live Session back in early December 2017, in the weeks leading up to the session, I had grown to love his unique sound. During our CRS trip in February 2018, Tenpenny performed for the first time what would become his debut single and first number one song, “Drunk Me”. Having chills the entire performance, I was immediately hooked on the track and grew an even deeper love for Tenpenny’s music. In the months leading up to the release of Telling All My Secrets, I eagerly watched “Drunk Me” climb the charts, while looking forward to his first headlining NYC show in early August. That show further confirmed my love for this album as I proudly watched the sold-out crowd sing back every word to Tenpenny’s set.
The vulnerability and genuine emotions referenced in Tenpenny’s songwriting make his music relatable, while his unique vocal ability sets him apart from other popular acts in the country music genre. Mitchell Tenpenny’s Telling All My Secrets is an album I will continue to listen to on repeat long into 2019.
Pick: Golden Hour – Kacey Musgraves (Listen Here)
Just like most of our writers, I had a hard time picking my favorite album of 2018, however, looking back on writing our First Impression pieces, I remember specifically the first time I heard Golden Hour. Kacey Musgraves is an artist who has never conformed to the glitz of Nashville, writing and creating music that doesn’t only evoke revenge vibes like a ton of female artists sing about but more important meaningful aspects of life. Golden Hour was recently nominated for not only Country Album of the Year but also all-genre Album of the Year at the 2019 Grammys.
Musgraves delivery is ethereal, her vocals are magical and the project conjures bliss and wonderment even on the sadder, slower songs. The record even has a few psychedelic tracks, “High Horse” and “Velvet Elvis” are reminiscent of the 1970s. She particularly shines on “Rainbow” and “Oh, What A World” as they focus on the world around us and its magnificence. Songs about love like “Butterflies” and breakups, “Space Cowboy” live together on Golden Hour, making it the easiest listen of 2018 and my pick for my favorite album.
Pick: Ticket to L.A. – Brett Young (Listen Here)
Brett Young’s transition from break-up songs to love songs in his latest album Ticket To L.A. has been one of the greatest experiences to listen to as a fan of the spectacular artist. Every song on this album can potentially be a hit, the lyrics do not disappoint while showcasing some of the best songwriters in Nashville. Overall, Young dropped an album full of songs that makes you not able to pick a favorite. Every track gives you a warm, fuzzy feeling with a relatable notion. If you haven’t yet, make sure to give this album some love.
Pick: If I Know Me – Morgan Wallen (Listen Here)
If you’re looking for an album that tells a complete story from beginning to end look no further than Morgan Wallen’s If I Know Me. The album evolves from party songs about hanging with friends partying and drinking in hits like “Up Down” (feat. Florida Georgia Line) to the beginning of a romance with the smooth sound of ‘Chasin’ You’ and the confident title track “If I Know Me” to its ultimate end in “Not Good at Not”. One thing is for sure, Wallen is unapologetically true to himself. In the six tracks he wrote for this album, he stays true to his country roots referencing his pride for where he’s from especially in his first single ‘The Way I Talk’. His gritty twang is put on display in one of my favorites “Redneck Love Song” – the lyrics playing out right in front of your eyes. His newest single, the playful “Whiskey Glasses” has a chorus guaranteed to get stuck in your head. My personal favorite “Talkin’ Tennessee” – is a super flirty ballad that puts Wallen’s vocal range on display leaving you wanting more.
Pick: Songs for the Saints – Kenny Chesney (Listen Here)
Anyone who follows or knows about Kenny Chesney knows about his love for the Virgin Islands. Chesney’s songs have always been created with a specific purpose musically, although with his newest album the purpose is far different. The main reason I love Songs for the Saints is that it was created to help the islands recover after two massive hurricanes in 2017. Chesney is bringing much-needed awareness to the severity of the destruction that hit the islands and is donating the proceeds from the album sales to his Love for Love City fund to help repair those damages. Besides the purpose of the album, each song still has that somber, island vibe, and optimistic outlook that Chesney is known for and because of that Songs for the Saints is my favorite album of 2018!
Pick: Girl Going Nowhere – Ashley McBryde (Listen Here)
When it comes to albums that were released in 2018, there were so many good ones that I’m sure I’ll be listening well into 2019. From Dan + Shay to Brothers Osborne to Eric Church, it was a great year in country music. Yet, when I think about which album I’m most thankful for, it’s Ashley McBryde’s Girl Going Nowhere. For McBryde, the album, released in March, was truly her breakout moment. It’s first single, “A Little Dive Bar in Dahlonega” was picked up by SiriusXM’s The Highway as a “Highway Find,” and its acclaim was topped off with a GRAMMY nomination for Best Country Album. While in some ways McBryde may not fit the stereotypical Nashville image, her songwriting and music are truly top-notch. Highlights of the album include “American Scandal,” “Tired of Being Happy,” “Girl Going Nowhere,” “The Jacket,” and “Andy (I Can’t Live Without You).” In fact, McBryde’s big label debut shines because there’s a song for everyone, everything, and every moment, her music truly evocative and special.
Pick: Hallelujah Nights – LANCO (Listen Here)
Hallelujah Nights by LANCO was definitely the album I looked forward to the most in 2018. I loved the EP that came out before the full-length release and waited in anticipation for the album to come out in January of 2018. It did not disappoint and turned out to be the soundtrack of the year for me. The mostly upbeat, love song focused album was great for driving, listening to at work, and countless other things throughout the year. Seeing LANCO live in May was an amazing experience, as hearing your favorite album live is such a great feeling.
Pick: Dark Horse – Devin Dawson (Listen Here)
From the moment I first heard Devin Dawson’s debut album Dark Horse, I knew it would be one of my favorites. Each time I listen to it, I feel as if I’m being transported to another place, being absolutely mesmerized by the entire album. Dawson allows his music to speak for itself, each song being unique in its own way while staying true to himself. Dark Horse is a masterpiece and I was fortunate enough to get to see him perform most of the songs live over the past year. I can’t wait to see what 2019 brings for him as well as finally being able to hear the rest of the album live next month in New York City!
Pick: Port Saint Joe – Brothers Osborne (Listen Here)
Ever since it’s release in April, Port Saint Joe has essentially become the soundtrack to my life these past nine months. Regardless of what mood I was in or what I was doing or where I was, I found myself persistently playing this album over and over again. There is something so unique about TJ and John’s sound that captivates me every single time I listen to any of their music. This album truly stuck with me this year and I cannot wait to hear it live and experience each song in a new light when the guys come to New York City next month.
Pick: Home State – Jordan Davis (Listen Here)
When I was younger I used to listen to a record from start to finish over and over again until I knew every single lyric by heart. As streaming became more the norm and buying CD’s happened less and less, I kind of stepped away from listening to whole albums; unless I really, really loved a song from an artist. This year, I finally got back to my roots and started to enjoy entire records again. Jordan Davis’ debut album Home State started this for me.
I loved Davis’ first single “Singles You Up” so much that I just had to hear what else he had to offer. Home State is my favorite country album of 2018 because it reignited my love for deep cuts on albums, and the story that a full-length LP tells to the listener. Not to mention, each and every song on the record is a vibe in itself. A great album to me is one that keeps me interested and invested even after a million listens. Additionally, a great record has me telling all of my friends to listen ASAP and keeps me excited about future projects. Davis’ Home State checked all the boxes for me. I can’t wait to see how his unique sound, vocal ability, and swagger as an artist manifest in his next studio album.
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